The Man Who Wants to Drive Faster (And thinks you should too)

    I just finished watching an eviscerating critique of speed-limit policy and the media’s coverage of traffic accidents related to speed.  Titled “Speed Kills Your Pocketbook”, it was posted on Jalopnik.com, a car-lovers website I generally enjoy even though some of it’s writers are too snarky. Downright mean in some cases.  Not @MattHardigree, but some of them.  The video I watched was written and produced by a guy named Chris Thompson, who is obviously a very clever writer and thorough… bordering on obsessive… researcher, even if his glib, arrogant delivery sometimes makes you want to run over him in a speeding car.  And that brings us to his motivation for making the video.  Chris Thompson wants to drive faster.  He wants you to drive faster too.   He makes an excellent argument for raising speed limits, even showing how at least one provincial government has ignored IT’S OWN RESEARCH showing that raising speed limits (in some specific areas) is the right thing to do.  He takes shots at ICBC, British Columbia’s monopolistic provincial auto insurer, sneaky ticket-writing cops, and the media (particularly Global BC) for helping perpetuate the myth that “Speed Kills”.  He even depicts me wearing leder hosen. I’m telling you zis guy is creative!

Thompson takes issue with some of our recent coverage of vehicle crashes, even stealing part of his title from a graphic we used while reporting on one such fatal collision.  He uses snippits and clips from all kinds of animated, pop-culture characters to try, it seems, to discredit police… and media… for ever using any reference whatsoever to speed as a factor in deadly crashes.  Because we all know if we all drove as fast as we want to, whenever we want to, the roads would be safer, right?  Admittedly, he points out a couple of inconsistencies in our coverage… but when officers at the scene of the crash tell us, based on years of experience, that the car was in all likelihood going too fast on a windy stretch of road when it crashed, we rightfully report that information.  Inconveniently for us, the only actual clip we had from the police spokesman said “speed is not being ruled out”.  So yeah… rewind and watch that again as many times as you want.

But the real target of Thompson’s raging sarcasm is the cash-grab culture of police, hiding in the bushes, ticketing people who are all driving at a speed that is probably a safe maximum, based on road design and conditions.  After all, I agree with Thompson that most normal, law abiding citizens wouldn’t drive at a velocity that they felt would endanger their lives.  The problem is, there are too many drivers who lack the judgement to know what that is.  For them, speed is often deadly. Speed does kill.  And an arrogant view of our own driving abilities is as dangerous as guzzling 12 beers and getting behind the wheel.  Speed kills, but hubris is worse.

The truth is, I hope Chris Thompson’s campaign gains some traction.  I want speed limits analyzed and, where appropriate, raised.  I want to be able to drive faster as long as we’re all driving faster together and paying attention.  Especially if the research shows we’ll all be safer for it.

You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BKdbxX1pDw&feature=player_embedded#t=2

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6 comments

  1. bcrationalist · · Reply

    “The problem is, there are too many drivers who lack the judgement to know what that is.”

    This is exceedingly true and if the only people that were at risk as a result of this behaviour then personal freedom would reign and I’d be all for it. But the children walking down the street, the man riding his bike to work and the little old lady in her scooter at the crosswalk all have more of a right to safety than drivers have of going 10 or 20 km faster.

    In the last year, I’ve nearly been hit 3 times as a pedestrian:

    -Once while crossing the street and a truck made an illegal left. The side of truck brushed my hip as it passed, the driver never slowing down despite the intersection being a 4 way flashing red.

    -Once while at an intersection walking with the walk signal and a driver decided to use the bike lane as a right turn lane. He slammed on his brakes and I had to jump out of the way. He honked at me and sped away while giving me the finger.

    -Once while jogging on the soft shoulder in a playground zone against traffic as I was supposed to. The driver was well over 50km and no where’s near the 30km that he was supposed to be doing. he underestimated the long left turn he was on and came over the line while beside me. 25m behind me, he ended up on the soft shoulder where I had just been 30 seconds before.

    There is no shortage of logic that people will use to justify their behaviour.
    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Stranded+drivers+impounds+overkill+penalty+excessive+speeding/8804157/story.html

    When the time comes that there are 100 randomly done studies on the effects of raising speed limits and 80% of them say it’s a good thing then that’s the day I’ll jump on board. Until then, I’d rather not be an extra 500 points in Grand Theft Auto:GVRD.

    1. Random citizen · · Reply

      2 points to your comment:

      1) while I am sorry regarding the near misses you have experienced, none of them talk to the same point as the video, all of the scenarios were when drives should have slowed down/ obey other traffic rules. The video talks to raising the limit where it makes sense, raising the limit on W Georgia for example doesn’t at all.

      2) if drivers on the road who lack judgement are the problem, shouldn’t we be looking at how licenses are issued by our own ICBC rather than giving them licenses and then questioning their judgement later on?

      Just my 0.02

  2. Chris Thompson · · Reply

    Hi, it’s Chris Thompson here. I’m glad you didn’t get too mad at my Lederhosen photoshop gig, and I think Squire should use it for his next Sattelite Debris!

    I take issue with one fact of your article. I do not want everyone to drive faster – I’m trying to legalize the speed that the safe majority do. If the speed limits are set right, then you can look at the sign and tell who’s driving too fast. If the speed limits are too low, everyone’s over the limit, and it’s up to the police to pick and choose whom to ticket, and that doesn’t make sense. It’s arbitrary, and only serves to annoy those that are driving safely because they’re lumped in with those actually driving too fast.

    And I know I picked on Global, but let’s just say my girlfriend likes listening to tall guys named Chris, so we watch Global. And I know I’m at the top of her list, but I’m really not sure by how far…

    1. Hey Chris,

      I’m glad you saw it, and appreciate your comments. There is no doubt you make a very logical argument for increasing speed limits on some roads. I’m not sure anyone will have the political will to change it, given (as you accurately point out) how addicted municipalities are to the revenue from traffic tickets.
      The lederhosen gag was hilarious, and I did feel that you must watch a hell of a lot of Global BC to come up with that much material. Despite being a target in this one, I find your films highly entertaining and informative. Your takedown of Vander Zalm’s “Fight HST” movement was brilliant, and I know you’re on to great things as a social/political commentator and critic. I’ll be watching you, just as you and your girlfriend are watching me. Ha!
      Cheers,
      Chris

  3. iainmac700@hotmail.com · · Reply

    you mad, bro?

    1. Nope, just interested.

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